After running for only one hour straight, I couldn’t help but stop because something felt really, really… Odd.
I couldn’t really describe it, but it felt like my body was suddenly working against me. Like my skin had become tighter, far too tight. Or that my lungs had grown smaller.
Had the air became even more scarce?
It felt that if somehow my joints had reversed and with every step I took I had to bend them in the right way.
Which was impossible. My body was used to running at high speeds for a long period of time. But here I was, feeling… Tired?
Was this how it felt? Being tired?
Had I done something wrong that I felt this way? Was it because I wasn’t used to carrying Heather?
No, that couldn’t be it. I had done that before.
So what was the reason?
I wanted to keep running and get to my place in one go so that we wouldn’t be away for too long from the human world, but I just couldn’t. I needed to let my muscles rest for a little bit so that I wouldn’t endanger Heather.
I let my girl jump down from my back and I let myself fall down by the side of the road. Dust fluttered up and I could almost feel it dry out my tongue.
Was I thirsty?
That couldn’t be right. Could it?
I had only been down in the human world for a short while, but it seemed like so much time has passed already. Everything seemed different up here.
The air felt different, the ground was odd and everything had a slightly bitter smell to it.
It wasn’t that pleasant to be honest.
And not only felt everything else different, after being surrounded by humans, I felt different. Down there, everything was easy and fine.
Most doors opened automatically but the ones that did needed opening, I could open with my pinky. I always had to make sure not to walk too fast so that Heather could keep up and I had crushed quite a couple of items when I held them too tight.
Down there I had to reel my strength back in and even then I had to be careful.
But up here, I seemed to have a little bit of difficulty. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it one bit.
I felt slightly dizzy and there was a strange tingling around my scalp. I could feel that my blood was racing and apart from all that nonsense, I still felt too cold. Why couldn’t I get warm?
‘ Have a seat, you probably could use a break.’ I muttered to Heather, too ashamed to admit that I was having trouble so I played it off like this stop was for her sake.
I didn’t want her to know I was having some issues. That would only worry her and it was nothing, really. It would probably pass in a minute.
‘ Yes, good idea. The wind is really harsh up here.’ Heather agreed, rubbing her reddened cheeks, seemingly happy and cheerful.
I patted the spot next to me, urging her to sit down and let myself fall flat on my back. Compared to the underground world, there really was less oxygen up here.
I felt faint and that dizziness was unnerving. I never had any trouble fledding from the building to my home, not even when I carried Heather, but somehow there was something wrong.
Was it my body? Was it weakening?
No, it must be my imagination. Vampire bodies don’t weaken. We are build strong. Fast. This is who we are.
It must be something up here. Maybe while I was down the air changed or a new chemical had gotten free or the earth had gotten out of its orbit.
Who knows. It could be anything, but it wasn’t my body that was the problem.
It couldn’t be…
I suddenly got pulled out of my thoughts by a loud shriek. I jumped up and looked around to spot the danger, ready to shield my human from whatever was coming.
‘ Auwwtch.’ Heather pouted as she waved her hand in the air.
‘ What’s wrong? What happened!’ I yelled as I scanned the area, frustrated I couldn’t detect anything or anyone.
‘ Nothing, I just cut myself in something sharp over here.’
I let out a big sigh of relief and crouched down next to her. Oof. Nothing to be afraid off.
I felt my stomach unclench and as I focused on the tiny cut on her finger, I pushed my panic to the background. For a slight moment I had been worried I couldn’t protect her.
Which was utter nonsense. Of course I could.
‘ Let me see.’ I spoke softly as I pulled Heather’s bleeding hand towards me. She must have cut herself on a stray piece of glass or something since blood was dripping down her hand.
‘ I… Ehmm…’ I muttered as I stared at her hand. The blood was red and trickling down in a little stream as the drops fell into the dust beneath us.
I had never seen human blood. It was so red. So… Silky… So liquid.
It smelled different than I imagined. So distinct. Almost metallic but with a hint of… I couldn’t place it. It was unlike anything else than I had smelled before and yet somehow, it seemed so very familiar.
So familiar. I racked my brain, trying to pin point what it reminded me off. It almost smelled like… But that couldn’t be…
‘ Ade? Ade?’
‘ Yeah?’ I answered, snapping out of my haze and drawing my eyes up to meet hers.
‘ I asked if you could take some tissues from my back pocket.’
‘ Oh… Yeah. Umm. Sure. Sorry…’ I apologised, shaking my head to compose my thoughts. This was not the time! Heather was hurt and here I was daydreaming.
With my free hand I searched her pocket and managed to press the tissue on her bleeding hand.
‘ You okay? Your hands are trembling.’ Heather asked, looking at me strangely.
‘ What? Yes, yes. Am okay.’ I answered, swallowing audibly as I forced my eyes on a little rock by the road. ‘ Put pressure on it until it stops.’
I shoved my hands deep in my pockets as I realised they were indeed trembling and averted my gaze so I didn’t have to look at my bleeding girlfriend.
I wasn’t sure why that sight made me feel so weird. So I told myself it was because I didn’t like seeing her hurt.
But everything was weird. From the moment I came up here until right now, nothing seemed even remotely normal.
Luckily, after a little while, the wound stopped bleeding and Heather happily waved her hand at me. She had wiped away the dried blood and the nick was barely visible.
Odd that such a small cut could draw so much blood from her. Very odd.
‘ I am all okay. Nothing to worry about.’ she cheerfully said as if nothing had happened.
‘ Am glad.’
I moved closer to her under the pretence that I could gave her a quick peck, but in honesty, I wanted to throw some dirt over the blood on the ground.
It was staring at me and I just couldn’t have that. I needed to get away from here.
This was turning into a bizarre scenario and I knew Heather knew something was up.
‘ Am ready to keep going. You up for a run?’ I quickly proposed, hoping to divert Heather’s curious mind.
‘ Huh? Oh yes. Sure.’ she smiled, but I saw that the gears in her head were ticking away.
So were mine. I was distracted. I knew I was. She knew I was. I just wasn’t completely sure why.
I wanted to say it was because I didn’t like seeing Heather hurt because she was so fragile, so vulnerable. But I wasn’t sure that was the entire reason.
It was about something else as well.
Her blood just dripped out of her body like it was nothing. It didn’t seem to hurt her or disturb her even, but it did disturb me.
I had never seen anyone bleed. We didn’t bleed. Our skin was so strong it protected our internal organs perfectly.
Of course I had seen our blood in a lab for testing, but it wasn’t as red and it certainly wasn’t that velvety.
But her blood, human blood? It was so red. So… beautiful.
I just didn’t understand why it had such an effect on me. I mean, I had seen it before when we did all those tests on her in the beginning. I hadn’t smelled it or touched it but it didn’t seem to affect me then. But now… It somehow did. It drew me in, it beckoned me, it called out to me. Was it because I learned about my history? Or was there another reason?
Why did I have such a different reaction to it now?
What was different?
I urged myself to think back to our first meeting, trying to figure out what could have made this change.
When I met her, she was unconscious… I woke her up, we talked and then I brought her home with me. I called my father urgently because… Oh right, because she was human and because she had passed out. I had given her one of my +fluids and that had almost killed her.
Wait… + fluids…
When was the last time that I drank a package? Hmm… I hadn’t had any of my fluids in weeks…
I knew that technically, my body needed those, after all, they contained all the vitamins and proteins and the other good stuff that our bodies craved. That being said, it was completely possible to go without for a while.
I never tried going without before since I had always a whole cabinet full and they were tasty. Usually, I drank three packages a day for good measure. Almost everyone did.
That being said, Heather had grabbed my full attention and since we went to her world spontaneously, I hadn’t really thought about taking +fluids with me. To be honest, I hadn’t really missed them anyway and down in the human world they had those little chewing tablets with a similar flavour, so I had just been enjoying those instead.
I hadn’t really thought about my nutrients and all. I figured I would notice if I needed them.
But I never felt a craving for my fluids, so I figured I didn’t need them as much as I thought.
At least not while I was down there where everything was close by and I was trying not to show my true strength. I didn’t need my body to be in top condition, since that would just alarm the people around me.
I knew that over time, I hadn’t held Heather too tight, or crushed as many poles as in the beginning, or swung open doors into my own face, but I just assumed I had gotten better at regulating my strength.
Better at being careful around Heather.
Apart from the chewing things, I had been drinking lots of water and that had kept me energised throughout. Or so I thought…
Now that I was back up here in my world it seemed a different tale. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to admit what was happening here.
Something was off here. That was for sure. It could have been the air or the ground. Perhaps gravity or the oxygen or anything else, but a far more likely explanation: It was… Me.
Was I growing weaker without my +fluids?
Was I becoming… Hungry?